Sometimes, a little bit of magic and mystery is exactly what you need. A dark comedy about responsibility and redemption, Colossal delivers an original take on ordinary problems…and oh yea, Kaiju.
Nacho Vigalondo wrote and directed this bizarre and charming film about a young woman whose lifestyle ruins her career and relationship, forcing her back to her hometown to regroup. Seemingly straightforward, things change drastically when a giant monster materializes in South Korea and chaos ensues. The young woman must unravel her inexplicable connection to the events and navigate the dangerous consequences before it’s too late. Vigalondo is mostly known for his extensive catalog of short films, but wrote very distinct and deeply detailed characters for this film. There are only a few characters involved and even though the script gets a bit campy at times, the dialogue is often sharp and unpredictable.
Anne Hathaway brought credibility to the project in the lead role of Gloria. Although she wasn’t spectacular, there is always a certain level of quality in her performances. Even on her worst day, she’s still better than many and was well above that level in this film. The character is a borderline sympathetic fuck-up, but levity throughout the script prevents her from being outright despicable. Her journey on the character arc starts off on the wrong foot, but slowly works her way back to respectable for both the audience and herself.
Opposite Hathaway is Jason Sudeikis playing Oscar. A local bar owner and hometown boy who never left. He’s around to help Gloria with her initial transition away from her life in the city. Along the way he’s kept an eye on Gloria and her career from afar…living vicariously through her. For the first half, the character is familiar territory for Sudeikis but when his feelings aren’t reciprocated things take a dark turn. His career of playing the nice guy lent itself wonderfully to Oscar turning heel and gave Sudeikis a platform to to show his range. He definitely had the standout performance of the film and will hopefully get more roles where he can tap into his dark side.
Dan Stevens has had a very busy year with Beauty and the Beast and FX’s incredibly well done series Legion. He’s found plenty of success already, but there’s an idiom that says “strike while the iron is hot.” Stevens plays Tim who’s intentionally a stereotype, overtly British and highly animated. Struggling to deal to with Gloria’s self destructive nature, Tim kindly asks her to leave which sets the entire plot in motion. Although they stay in touch throughout the film, Tim is mostly on the outside looking in for the meat of the story. Rounding out the big names on the cast is Tim Blake Nelson who brought his unique comedic timing and delivery to the table. He plays Garth, a bar fly and a friend of Oscar, who provides some of the films funniest moments.
Much of this film is unremarkable. The cinematography Eric Kress is solid and the visual effects are good enough but clearly done with a small budget. The music supervision was above average but I couldn’t find anyone to credit for it. Even though the story is fantastical, the film’s biggest strengths are its characters and the actors who play them.
Recommendation: If you’re in the mood for something outside the painfully unoriginal redundancy of the mainstream, this one is for you. It’s quirky, funny, well written and well acted. Mostly family friendly, the themes will likely go over the heads on young children but there is a giant monster to offer entertainment. If you’re up for it, you’ll likely have to go a bit out of your way to find it playing at an independent theater.